I don’t think that my mum knew what she was doing when she made her Will. How can I tell if she lacked capacity?
You may be concerned that a family member or friend did not understand what they were doing when they made their Will. The legal test for whether or not a testator had sufficient mental capacity to make a Will requires that:
- They understand the nature of the act of making a Will and its effect – in other words, that he or she understands that they are setting out how they wish for their estate to be distributed upon their death;
- The size of their estate;
- The individuals in respect of which they are morally bound to provide for and any consequences of not providing for these individuals; and
- That they are not suffering from any disorder of the mind which may effectively poison their feelings toward people who may otherwise expect to benefit from the estate.
The process of analysing whether or not a testator did lack the mental capacity to make a Will involves consideration of the evidence of the solicitor or Will maker involved in the preparation of the Will, the testator’s medical records and the witness evidence of other people who were involved in the testator’s life.
If organisations don’t have a formal home working policy, then they should set out, as soon as possible, in clear terms, what is expected of employees from a data protection perspective when working from home. These might include:
- If someone is using their own device for remote working, ensuring that any devices that hold work-related information have up-to-date anti-virus software and that broadband connections have properly configured firewalls
- Reminding staff to contact the organisation’s IT department if they encounter any issues with home working, and not to try and resolve any issues themselves
- Reminding staff that they should notify relevant individuals within the organisation if they consider that there might have been a personal data breach. A breach will still be notifiable even if it does occur at home during the pandemic. These should be logged by the organisation in their data breach log in the normal way
- Ensuring staff lock their devices whenever they are not using them
- Where possible, working in a separate part of the home to family members
- Ensuring confidentiality of information – advising staff not to have phone calls where others are likely to hear the conversation. This might mean moving to a different room, closing the door, or arranging a call for a more convenient time. If employees have smart speakers, you may want to consider advising them to either turn these off, if they are working in the same room as it, or work in a different room
- Wherever possible, avoid taking hard copy documents home, and, if papers are taken home, never placing those papers in a bin or using a home shredder – any such papers should be shredded back at the office in the usual way
- Locking any papers in a safe place
- Not using social media platforms (unless already used and permitted by the organisation) to discuss work matters
- Advising extra caution with incoming emails as at times such as this there may be an increased risk of fraud, email hacking, spear phishing etc.
- Avoiding information being sent to personal email accounts (for example, so it can then be printed at home)
- Reminding staff of your organisation’s Information Security policies, procedures and protocols. These could be emailed to all staff working from home or they could be directed to such documents on the organisation’s intranet, for example
Organisations should also ensure that their remote access systems can cope with increased demand.
Whilst the ICO appreciates the unprecedented nature of this pandemic, it does not mean that organisations can forget about their obligations as controllers of personal data. If a major data security breach were to happen, there is still the possibility of enforcement action where the organisation didn’t put in place good risk mitigation measures.
We have a specialist team of data protection lawyers here at Ward Hadaway, and would be happy to discuss any data protection concerns or issues that you might have.
On 30th April 2020, the CMA issued a guidance note setting out its views about how the law operates in relation to refunds.
Where a contract is not performed as agreed, the CMA considers that in most cases, consumer protection law will generally allow consumers to obtain a refund.
This includes the following situations:
- Where a business has cancelled a contract without providing any of the promised goods or services
- Where no service is provided by a business, for example because this is prevented by Government public health measures
- A consumer cancels, or is prevented from receiving any services, because Government public health measures mean they are not allowed to use the services.
In the CMA’s view, this will usually apply even where the consumer has paid what the business says is a non-refundable deposit or advance payment.
This positon reflects the CMA’s previous guidance which they had issued in relation to the requirement of fairness in consumer contracts under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which was that a clause in a contract that gives a blanket entitlement to a trader to cancel a contract and retain deposits paid is likely to be unfair, and therefore unenforceable – it would be unfair to a consumer to lose their deposit if the contract is terminated without any fault on their part, and if they had received no benefit for the payments made.
The CMA’s latest guidance therefore confirms their view that the Covid-19 outbreak does not change the basic rights of the consumer, and that they should not have to pay for goods or services that they do not receive.
There are a number of technical formalities which any testator must follow in order to execute a valid Will. These include:
- The Will must be signed by the testator, in the presence of two other witnesses and then be signed by those witnesses, in the presence of the person making the Will after the testator themselves has signed the document.
- The person making the Will must be over 18 years of age and have mental capacity.
- The person must make the Will voluntarily without undue influence and must know and understand what the Will says; and
- The Will must be in writing
We are quite used to situations where the injured party is unable to speak because they are in ITU or have suffered a brain injury. In a case like this we would speak to the person wishing to represent the injured party and give the relevant advice and information to enable them to begin the claim on the injured persons behalf.
Conduct risk assessments! Your RA must cover every foreseeable risk arising from a return to the workplace, including the impact of reduced staff levels and any operational/administrative changes necessary to ensure social distancing.
Appropriate steps should be taken to manage and mitigate identified risks. Where this is not possible, businesses need to decide whether certain activities are necessary for the business to operate or if they can be temporarily put on hold.
Keep a close eye on the comprehensive Government guidance: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19
In particular focus on social distancing and workplace health measures. This guidance will evolve over time and you will need to be sure that your organisation is sticking to it AND reviewing and updating its risk assessment.